Polycythemia Vera: Is there anything I can do for fatigue at home?

Posted by nicolekapr @nicolekapr, Mar 7 9:03am

Is there anything I can do for fatigue on a home basis? Diets, iron, anything? I’m low on ferritin, my count was 49.9% so they would not phlabotimize in office. Today I am so out of breath and out of it. So exhausted and I have school caregiving and mom duties! I would do anything today. Help!? Sigh. Longtime sufferer, newly diagnosed. 🙂

Hi @nicolekapr, welcome. Sorry to hear you've had a particularly difficult day with fatigue and being out of breath today. So hard to keep up with mom duties when you feel this way. You ask about lifestyle and home remedies that you can do to combat PV-related fatigue. Allow me to bring fellow PV members, like
@chadknudson @mwear @juiceinjc @richmpv @faithgirl30 @irishnanny3 @atir @apr931 @thlas1971 @sharonnz @trillium to share their tips and suggestions.

Nicole, you mention that you only recently were diagnosed with polycythemia vera, but you've been living with it for some time. What is your diagnosis tale? How did you finally get diagnosed?


Hi @nicolek. I completely understand how debilitating fatigue is. For more than 10 years, fatigue was my chief complaint. I went from doctor to doctor for help. Mostly I was given antidepressants. I never seemed to be able to get someone to understand that if I was depressed, it was because of the fatigue, not that depression was causing fatigue. Interesting that my red blood counts were apparently through the roof all this time, but no one said a word about it. I had no energy to do anything. Even watching TV or reading was out because I was so exhausted. It got so bad that I had to give up my job last summer. It was causing strain on my marriage as well because he couldn't understand why I was tired all the time and was starting to take it personally.
I started seeing a hematologist (not Mayo clinic) in mid-January, who diagnosed polycythemia (cause as yet undermined, so I don't know if it's primary or secondary). I've had 4 phlebotomies since then–the last one cancelled because my hematocrit was in normal limits. (that's the only number my doctor watches)

I will say that after the phlebotomies my energy seems to increase for a day or two, but then it starts to cycle back down. Unfortunately, I haven't found a magic "fix" either. All I can say is for you to be as kind to yourself as you can. Do what you HAVE to do (I know being a mom doesn't allow you to crawl in bed) and let the rest go.

I do find it interesting that they wouldn't phlebotomize you due to your ferritin level. My doctor checked mine just twice–before and after the first phlebotomy–it was at 49 (before) and 40 (after) ng/mL. He's never checked it again. When I asked him why he stopped checking it, he told me it wasn't below 30 so he wasn't going to worry about it. I wonder if it's dropped more and that's contributing to my fatigue. hmmmm…. I do know my iron levels have been well within normal range, so I don't know if an iron-based diet/supplement would help. Of course I'm not a doctor, and I don't trust mine…

I do wish you the best. If nothing else, know that you aren't alone.


Hi, @nicolekapr . @colleenyoung asked if maybe I had some helpful info on fatigue for you. I have an autoimmune disease, but not polycythemia Vera. Fatigue was my biggest problem and I’m slowly learning how to manage it. Let me ask a few questions first, if you don’t mind. You’re a mom so have child duty and at home school. How old are your children? What have you tried so far to get thru the day?

I have a couple of articles that might interest you:
The suggestions might be a good start for you. Becky

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